Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Bridget Atley (1665)
I know thy soul desires to live; and my soul desireth that thou mightst live. Oh! why art thou so backward to hearken to the voice which is nigh thee, wherein is life? why dost thou reason? why dost thou consult? why dost thou expect? why dost thou hope? why dost thou believe against thy own soul?
The snares of the subtle one will entangle for ever, unless thou wait for, hearken to, and obey the voice of the living God, who leads the single-hearted and obedient out of them. Is there any way of life but one? Is not the Lord leading his children in that way? Must not all that come after, follow in the foot-steps of those that go before? Is there any Saviour, but the seed of life and the Father of it? Is it not the same in thee as in others? Hath it not the same voice? Oh that thou hadst the same ear and the same heart, that thou mightst hear, receive, and live! They wait aright; dost thou wait so? They hope aright; dost thou hope so? If not, what will thy waiting and expecting come to? In that, which hath sometimes inclined thy heart, there is truth, there were the beginnings of salvation; but in that which draws thee out to expect some great matters, and dries up thy present sense, and hinders thy present subjection, therein is deceit, and the destruction of thy soul. Therefore, if thou desire and love the salvation thereof, Oh hasten, hasten out of it! wait for the reproofs of wisdom; and what it manifests to be of the earthly <464> and worldly nature in thee (the words, ways, thoughts, customs thereof), hasten out of. Oh, turn thy back upon the world with speed, and turn thy face towards the heavenly wisdom and light eternal! which will be springing up in thee, if thou turn thy back upon the world, and wait for it.
And do not look for such great matters to begin with, but be content to be a child, and let the Father proportion out daily to thee what light, what power, what exercises, what straits, what fears, what troubles he sees fit for thee; and do thou bow before him continually, in humility of heart, who hath the disposal of thee, whether to life or death for ever. Ah! that wisdom which would be choosing must be confounded, and the low, humble thing raised, which submits and cries to the Father in every condition. And in waiting to feel this, and in joining to this, thou mayst meet with life; but death, destruction, and separation from God is the portion of the other for ever! Oh, that thou mayst be separated from it, and joined to the seed and birth of God; that, in it, thy soul may spring up to know, serve, and worship the Lord, and to wait daily to be formed by him, until thou become perfectly like him. But thou must join in with the beginnings of life, and be exercised with the day of small things, before thou meet with the great things, wherein is the clearness and satisfaction of the soul. The rest is at noon-day; but the travels begin at the breakings of day, wherein are but glimmerings, or little light, wherein the discovery of good and evil is not so manifest and certain; yet there must the traveller begin and travel; and in his faithful travels (in much fear and trembling, lest he should err), the light will break in upon him more and more.
This have I written in tenderness to thee, that thou mightest not miss of the path of the living, which is appointed of the Father to lead, and alone can lead, the soul to life. Oh! that thou mightest be enlightened and quickened by the Lord to walk therein, and mightest be thankful for, and content with, what he gives thee, and walk therein, from the evil to the good, from the earthly to the heavenly nature daily, and mightest not despise the cross or the shame of the seed. For I know there is a wisdom in thee, which will despise and turn from it, until the Lord batter <465> and crucify it; and I can hardly put up a more proper request for thee, than that the Lord would draw out his sword against it, and deeply perplex and confound it in thee.